Posted in audio, gear, vintage

    I found this turntable at a thrift store for only $15, which is surprising because I never find any electronics worth keeping at thrift stores around here. It was pretty gunked up, the belt had disintegrated, and the cartridge was missing its needle. It seemed to be in decent cosmetic shape (no cracks in the dust cover!) so I figured it was worth taking home.

    After ordering a new belt from lpgear.com, I found that it was having trouble maintaining a constant 33 RPM speed, and 45 didn't work at all. A quick Google search indicated that this is an extremely common problem with these old Technics turntables. All you need to do is open up the bottom, spray a little contact cleaner into the speed control knobs, the power switch (which also acts as a 33/45 RPM switch), and finally the secondary speed control variable resistors on the bottom side of the circuit board. It's those variable resistors that usually cause the most grief, since they are never used outside of the factory, and accumulate a lot of oxidation over the years. Once again, I did not document this process with photos but you can see some here on Audiokarma.

    After all of the knobs were cleaned, I gave the whole thing a good scrubdown and it was spinning beautifully again. Good as new. Except—one of the channels was not outputting any sound. I used my multimeter to test whether the channel was cutting out on its way through the tonearm, or through the RCA cables. Luckily I determined it was the RCA cables that were faulty (not uncommon for a 40 year old turntable) so I simply ordered a heavy duty replacement set from Monoprice, snipped one end, and soldered them in. Having to rewire a tonearm is an exercise in frustration, so I was glad I didn't need to.

    The turntable came fitted with a vintage Pickering XV-15 cartridge, which I found out is pretty well regarded. Instead of replacing it with a whole new cartridge, I decided to order a replacement aftermarket stylus for it instead. As luck would have it lpgear.com had a replacement in stock, so I ordered it at the same time as I ordered the belt.

    With the new belt, RCA cables, and needle installed, everything was working perfectly again, and it had only cost me the initial $15 plus about $60 in replacement parts (including shipping). And as I pointed out in the comments of my turntable comparison chart, the specs of these old turntables basically destroy many of the modern entry level turntables, even ones priced between $200 and $400. They just need a little bit of work to bring them back to life. Now if only Technics hadn't chosen the absolute worst shade of olive puke for the veneer.

    12 comments

    David

    David

    I have the same turntable, and the veneer is not originally that color. This is due to a habitual smoker or dirty owner.

    Chris

    Chris

    I'd love to do a restore but can never find any old equipment. Great job!

    Jeff

    Jeff

    David, the base was heavily scrubbed with magic eraser and warm soapy water, and the photo has been white balanced (though maybe a tad on the warm side). So if the color looks off, it might be your display. Or maybe Technics made slightly different versions for different production runs, because I see on Google that some look a little more gray than others. But this one is definitely clean

    Brent

    Brent

    I'm not sure about the plastics used on that record player, but I've had good results using "retrobrite" to restore the plastic on a heavily yellowed Super Nintendo. Heavy scrubbing accomplished nothing until the retrobrite was used. May be worth looking into here.

    http://retr0bright.wikispaces.com/

    Nate

    Nate

    Great post. I have an sl-23 as well which I bought from goodwill for 7 bucks and then paid $30 to ship it! Anyway, part of the reason I decided to go with it (besides the value) was because all the controls are integrated into the right side section and, after taping that off, it could be easily painted. Mine is now high gloss white and I'm quite happy with it - modernized retro I guess. Fwiw, it also looked good in a flat black which I used as a primer.

    Jeff

    Jeff

    Nice! I would like to see photos of your paint job

    Ian

    Ian

    I just bought one sl23 $ 8.00 yard sale I would like to replace the lid it has one scratch but nice I think this was a good buy.

    Dan

    Dan

    I Found Mine For $19.00 Dollars In Almost New Condition And It Blows Away My Marantz 6350Q!!! Technics Is The Boss...

    RIchard

    RIchard

    Hi, I'm having speed problems with mine. I tried to put it on 45 after about six months of having it on 33 and everything went crazy, just wouldn't keep the correct speed and sometime it wouldn't start properly. Then suddenly today it starts working again. I couldn't find contact cleaner but bought wd 40 however I've realized this is not the stuff to use and didn't use it. What part of the turntable alters the speed, is it the capacitors? Did you use the contact cleaner on the dials from inside the turntable by opening the back or just from the front? The photos you suggested didn't help. I also had to replace the audio cables just bought some decent ones from radio shack was simple enough. I've just ordered I new needle/cartridge so I'd like to get it running as smooth as.... Thanks for the post!

    Jeff

    Jeff

    Richard, the speed control is part of the power switch. You need to flip the turntable upside down (remove the platter and secure the tonearm first), then unscrew the bottom. Once open, you'll be able to easily find the power switch and adjustment dials for both 33 and 45 RPM. Spray a little contact cleaner inside the power switch and speed dials, give them about two dozen turns, and then repeat the process again. It's unlikely you'll need to replace any capacitors.

    RIchard

    RIchard

    Awesome! Worked... so far. Installed an Audio Technica 95E cartridge and the sound (and speed) are much sharper. Thanks!

    Thomas

    Thomas

    Hi all!
    I'm looking at purchasing a Technics Sl-23 for $100 here in Australia. This would be my first record player! Any tips on what else I should be looking out for? Do I need a receiver, amps etc?

    Cheers

    Tom

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